My hands started to cramp as I gripped overly tight on the lift’s bar. I had always enjoyed chair lift rides, despite being nervous about the heights. But for me, this one was different.
While vacationing in Whistler, British Colombia, we set out for an adventure of sightseeing and hiking. The scenery was amazing, white-capped mountains, aqua-green rivers and the village nested amongst it all. To enjoy the scenery to the fullest, we decided to take the gondolas and chair lifts to the mountain tops. I was pretty amped about kicking back on the rides and enjoying the views.
We got on the Whistler Village Gondola first. The ride was smooth and the views stunning. The weather was cool and misty and the clouds were low. Still, we could see for miles, and there was lush greenery all around us.
The gondola stopped and rocked briefly for a few minutes which made me nervous, but I assumed it was loading problems. Eventually we began to move again and made it to the top. The temps were in the low 40s, but the winds were calm, and the air felt refreshing and delicious.
Our next goal was to take the Peak Express chair lift to an even higher peak, up 1300 feet, in order to check out the Cloudraker Skybridge and Top of the World summit. We had to hike downhill on a somewhat slippery grade to get to the lift and I was glad to finally sit down, ready to relax and enjoy the views on the chair lift.
I was really enjoying myself until the chair started to go much higher above ground than what I had ever experienced before. What I saw was freaky, there were bare rocks far beneath us, steep with jagged edges, hard and unforgiving. I pictured myself falling, heart pierced, broken and bleeding out upon the rocky crag. We went higher and higher and the views became more extreme. I had to close my eyes.
We made it to the top without incident and headed over to check out the Inukshuk statue that was made for the 2010 Olympics and then over to the Skybridge. In the back of my mind I was anxious because I knew we still had to take the lift back down. I really try to push through my fears, but that lift was a challenging one!
It was cloudy at the top of the peak, so the view from the bridge wasn’t as spectacular as it could have been. After taking several photos and meandering around at the top, it was time to go down. Oh, man.
We loaded onto the chair and up, up, and over, gasp! The view in the downward direction was incredible!
The heights, the scenery, the vulnerability, it was all too much for me to bear. I had to close my eyes for awhile and just chill as we soared over the hard, cold, rocky chasm once more. My hands gripped the bar tightly, not willing to let go. No way would I get to take the photos that I had hoped for. I couldn’t let go. This lift pushed the very limits of my fears. As we neared the bottom, I finally relaxed, thankful that we were at the end of this incredible ride.
Now we had to hike back uphill, to get back to the gondolas. Our adventure wasn’t over yet. It was time to take the Peak 2 Peak gondola. I wondered if this would be as frightening as the chair lift. The Peak to Peak is nearly 2.75 miles long and as the name states, it goes between two mountain peaks (Whistler and Blackcomb) at a height of 1430ft from the valley floor. To put that in perspective, that is the height of the Sears Tower (Willis, eh whatever) INCLUDING the antenna.
Despite P2P being much higher than the Peak Express chair lift, I felt much more comfortable and relaxed in the gondola. Perhaps there is a false security that comes with being in an enclosure, rather than being secured by a simple bar. I could now relax and take in the scenery. My eyes devoured the forest below. My soul was elated by the views! Tall pines reached for the sky for miles and a delightful river meandered between the two mountains. The gondola rode slowly and smoothly, and the 10-minute ride was over too soon.
After yet another short hike, it was time for our last gondola ride. This time we got on the Blackcomb Gondola to head down the mountain. It started to drizzle out, which was soothing and calming. Mountain paths weaved in and out along the gondola towers. Bright yellow and red tents dotted the mountainside and hikers with their dogs were visible on the mountainside, on our way down.
Reluctantly, but a bit thankfully, our last ride came to an end. The five of us chatted excitedly about our day and what we had seen and done, as we walked back to the car.
Pre-cancer I would have backed down and been afraid to do what I had done this day. I have learned that sometimes there are no second chances and now I force myself to try things, despite being frightened or uncertain. Interestingly, it’s not the heights so much that I’m afraid of, but the inability to fully control the situation. A lack of contingencies are my true fear. God is slowly breaking me of those clenched hands on the bar.
Is there something you want to do that scares you, and a tiny, little voice inside nudges you to give it a try? Do it afraid. The regrets of a lost opportunity are much stronger and long-lasting than the temporary fears. As you begin to conquer them one by one, well… there is power and momentum in those small victories.
Do it afraid.